Finding balance in the busy holiday season

Everybody always wants to know how to find balance amidst all the craziness. Holiday parties. Gift exchanges. Shopping. Fighting crowds. Fighting to maintain those long-time traditions. Fighting with each other because it’s all just so darn stressful.

The most wonderful time of the year? Maybe. If we can catch our breath in the middle of it.

To be honest, I’m the last person who should be giving advice about this.

The last few months have been the epitome of crazy for me, and although it’s my plan to slow things down for the holidays, we’ll see. I’m the girl who always says she is going to slow down and then thinks to herself, “Oh, I know! I’ll throw a party!” Or, “How about I bake batches and batches of holiday cookies I can’t actually eat (thanks to gluten)?”

Sometimes I get so attached to the traditions that signify the holidays for me I actually forget to enjoy them.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about balance lately and how I can possibly achieve it. And as I’ve been thinking about it, there is a particular image that keeps coming to mind.

It’s of a scale. Not like the digital scale you get on (or avoid getting on) the morning after all that turkey and stuffing, but a traditional old-school balancing scale—with a basket on each side, and a balance point in the middle.

That’s the image I have to go along with balance right now.

And when I stop to ask myself, “How do you achieve balance in life?” the answer comes in a picture: by faltering to one side or the other.

Picture this with me for a minute. Literally. If you were going to figure out how to balance one of those old-fashioned scales, what would you do? You’d put some stuff in one side, some stuff in the other, and then adjust depending upon which way the scale tipped.

It would be like bumper bowling. Seriously. First you’d hit one bumper on one side, and then the other bumper on the other side, until finally you’d find your way down the middle.

The way you’d find balance would be by failing to find balance.

First to one side, then to the other.

This has changed the way I’ve been thinking about balance lately. Because I think, if I’m honest, one of the things preventing me from finding balance has been that I’ve felt so much pressure to “achieve” balance. Do you know what I mean? It was almost like I forgot that finding balance, like anything in life, is a process.

It’s a process where there needs to be room for mistakes, for adjustments and for just being honest about how I’m feeling.

I can feel it when I’m too busy and stressed.

I can also feel it when my life feels calm, but dry and empty of meaning.

Can I find my way to the middle?

For me, here’s what this looks like this holiday season.

I’ve been pushing hard for months now. Truly. I’ve been working nights and weekends. I’ve been traveling a ton. I call this a “dig deep” season. You just do what you gotta do to get done what you gotta get done (that is terrible grammar, but you get the picture). I’ve been hitting one side of the bumper really hard.

Now it’s time to hit the other side of the bumper. I’m going to rest like nobody has ever rested before. I’m going to take naps. I’m going to be a boundary-setting champion. “No” is my new favorite word.

Then, in January, I’ll probably kick it up a notch again.

I’ll try to be honest with myself along the way. There won’t be pressure to be perfectly “balanced” all the time, but for me, there will be a strong emphasis on noticing when I’m doing too much, or too little, and a genuine effort to enjoy and learn from whatever season I’m in.

For you, it may be different.

Maybe for you this holiday season is going to be a little bit hectic, but you’re planning a respite in January. Or, maybe you’re pushing hard from Thanksgiving to Christmas and then you’re going to take a break before the start of the new year.

Whatever your plan is, let me just say this: enough with the pressure.

You do not have to be perfectly “balanced” all the time.

Nobody is.

Balance is a journey. And the journey to discovering what works for you will probably involve a little bumper bowling. Just don’t forget to have fun along the way.

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8 Comments

  1. Steph

    Yes! So often the need to be balanced comes with its very own pressure. My husband is a pastor so he works through Christmas Eve. But then he gets off between Christmas and New Years. I’m planning some hard core relaxing during that time!

  2. Krissy @ Mommy Misc

    It’s incredibly hard to find balance during the Holiday season, especially when you’re too caught up in decorating, shopping and working to be able to afford your kids’ presents to really enjoy the Holiday. (That’s how I feel at least!) I think more people should try to disconnect and sit back with their families and enjoy the season. It’s easier said then done, but definitely doable! 🙂 🙂

    • Kim quick

      Instead of presents perhaps give your kids presence

  3. James L. Carey

    I like where you’re going with this idea of going off balance to come back to balance. It makes me feel less likely to beat myself up when it happens to me. Especially helpful since so many of us try to achieve a sense of balance and then think negatively about ourselves if we do have to go off course.

    Another possible addendum to that would be to remove some of the stressors causing all the pressure that results in you going so far off balance in the first place. If it causes a harried, frantic pace of life, it might not be overly healthy or helpful for you.

    Great ideas.

    James L. Carey
    justlivesimple.com

  4. Katie Harding

    Such a beautiful post! I haven’t even gotten around to getting a Christmas tree yet and the guilt I have been feeling over that is overwhelming. I am so hung up in the appearance of everything and making sure everything is just right but I need to SLOW it down and enjoy this time with my boys, because they are just going to keep growing! Thanks for this. I needed it.

  5. Kim quick

    balance becomes easier as u get older and u start to realize all that stuff u did in the past really doesn’t matter much. Also your body starts to fail u and u just can’t do it anymore.
    That is when u really start living more in balance. You appreciate the little things. My feeling about balance is to do less, and less, and less. It all really doesn’t matter anyway.
    Just smile, laugh, be at peace and enjoy your life.

  6. lyle @ the Joy of Simple

    Great Post Allison 🙂

    “….one of the things preventing me from finding balance has been that I’ve felt so much pressure to “achieve” balance.” – Well stated and so true. I find that even though I live a very simple life, that mere fact allows me to be involved in so many things I wasn’t able to do back in my 9-5 days! Recently, I decided to just go with the flow and do what I can, when I can, with no added pressure to get things done straight away. Oh…and I take naps daily…this really does help 🙂

    Take care Allison and all the best in finding your balance.

    Lyle

  7. Gail

    My visual is I am the fulcrum point, doesn’t move. I chose what and how much goes into each basket.

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